Guest post by actor, Gary Moore.
The caller ID on my cell phone showed a number I didn’t recognize. I answered it anyway. A woman with a thick accent said, “Gary, evidently you and Frances were the only ones they liked in LA.”
The woman with the thick accent was a casting director. I paused for a moment to consider how odd it was to be getting this call from a casting director instead of my agent. But then I thought, “Who cares? They want to see me in Baltimore!” Because of that phone call I will forever be known as the guy who owned the dog that Kevin Spacey killed on “House of Cards.” And it all started with an audition.
1. Be ready
If you’re like me, you do a lot of auditions, either in person or taped. It’s easy to allow yourself to go on auto-pilot. That’s a mistake. Since you never know which audition is going to land you your big break, you have to be ready, each and every time. Over 80 percent of my auditions are taped now. I have a studio in my basement with professional lights, a nice, plain background and a simple camera that captures everything in QuickTime. I edit on Final Cut and send the finished product off to my agents and CD’s. But the audition call for House of Cards was in person, in Washington D.C., at a casting office that I had never been to. I was excited. Anytime you have the opportunity to get in front of a new casting director, it’s always worth the effort.
2. Go for it!
I arranged to meet my fake wife early for the audition so we could get to know each other. For most big projects you get the sides (the scenes of the script they want you to do) early. Not so with “House of Cards.” You had to show up early and they provided sides at that time. There was no opportunity to prepare beforehand. The scene appeared simple enough, but we worked it over and over until we felt completely comfortable. The other fake couples went in and out of the casting and soon it was our turn. The audition was being taped, and would then be sent to LA for consideration by the powers that be. We both felt like we nailed the take, but the young lady taping us directed us to do it a different way. Then again. And again. We didn’t quite know what to think about that. Usually, you get one, maybe two takes, they say, “Thank you,” and you leave. We thought the audition went well, but after so many directions you begin to second-guess yourself.
3. Be professional
An audition is an audition, and as an actor you’re always glad someone wants to see you, but after the audition is over life goes on. For me, it’s back to the grindstone of the normal stream of voice over jobs and even more on-camera auditions. Sometimes there are so many auditions that I forget what I auditioned for last week, much less two weeks ago. When the call came from the casting director wanting to see me in Baltimore in two days, I was surprised but ready. I had just enough air miles left for the flight and a rental car. The other actress and I agreed to meet early again. We had lunch at a nearby eatery, accidently ordering the same food, then drove to the production office. As we signed in I noticed there were no other couples at the call back. After a few minutes we were ushered into an office where we were greeted by director, David Fincher. He smiled as he explained the importance of this scene and asked if either of us had ever lost a pet before. We did two takes while he provided a bit of direction. From around the room we could hear muffled exclamations of, “Excellent!” “That’s it!” “Perfect.” Mr. Fincher thanked us for coming, and we left the room thinking, “That seemed to go well.”
4. Have fun
My fake wife and I were both cast in the Netflix series, “House of Cards,” and it was a wonderful experience from start to finish. On the way to set I texted my acting coach, Eric Kline of the Film Actor’s Workshop in LA, for any last minute advice. Eric’s text back simply said, “Have fun!” As soon as we arrived on set we were shown our trailers, but the A.D. said we needed to leave for rehearsal in a few minutes. We left base camp and arrived on location filled with lots of crew, cast and quite a gallery of public across the street. We spent the next 45 minutes rehearsing the blocking, timing and our acting choices. We returned to base camp for wardrobe and makeup. By the time we finally made it back to set, it was dark and the public gallery had doubled in size. They brought out the fake prop dog. It looked so life-like that people in the gallery kept calling the police, thinking a real dog had been hit by a car. Mr. Fincher is known for doing multiple takes, and our scene was no exception. It was a wonderful opportunity to hone my craft, and I took the opportunity to learn as much as possible from both Kevin Spacey and David Fincher. If I never get cast in another role, I can always say that I acted with a two-time Oscar winner and was directed by one of the best directors alive today.
Oh, yeah; Kevin still owes me a dog.
Gary Moore, represented by East Coast Talent, grew up onstage in Chicago. Although Gary hosted an international TV show called “The Help at Home Live Show” for seven years, does voice-over work and TV shows, his real love is film. He has been on sets with the likes of Kevin Spacey, David Fincher, Donald Sutherland, Danny Trejo, Orlando Bloom, Colin Firth, Patricia Clarkson, Tim Conway, Mel Tillis, and his good friend Tom Lester, who played “Eb” from the hit sitcom “Green Acres.” Gary was recently seen in the feature “Jimmy” with Ted Levine, and the upcoming U.S. release of “Return to the Hiding Place,” starring John Rhys-Davies. He just finished working with John Hillcoat in the pilot “Quarry.”